Photo by David Jimenez

San Fernando resident Alex Reza, UNITE-HERE Vice President Maria Elena Durazo, and her son Michael Contreras.

With the goal to raise funds to hold the upcoming Cesar Chavez March for Justice, a benefit was held Saturday, Feb. 27, hosted by the Cesar Chavez Commemorative committee.

This year’s march will be held on Sunday, March 20, and will  kickoff with a rally at Brand Park followed by a march to Ritchie Valens Park in Pacoima.

This event is the first and longest running march held in support and memory of the late labor leader.

The United Farmworkers Workers flag was projected on a large screen as a backdrop to the event as speakers updated the audience on the progress of various union activities including the fight with the El Super grocery chain to provide a union contract for their employees. El Super has 50 stores throughout the state, including a store in the City of San Fernando.

UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta has protested alongside El Super workers. During a previous protest, Huerta compared the conditions for the grocery chain employees to be similar to the fight to unionize farmworkers in the fields.

“The fight El Super workers are engaged in is the same fight that the farmworkers have historically fought for: the right to belong to a union, the right to bargain in good faith, and the right to industry labor standards, which means wages that can sustain their families,” Huerta has said.

El Super union members have been working without a contract since September 2013. Organizers maintain the store has been in violation of federal laws and has been bargaining in bad faith.  They have asked shoppers to boycott the store until they are able to secure a contract.

A tribute was given to Miguel Contreras (posthumously), a national organizer for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor who was credited with making Los Angeles a city of example for successful union organizing. During his many years of organizing, Contreras was also considered a “go-to” kingmaker for politicians, who would seek his endorsement and support.

Receiving the award, his son Michael Contreras and his wife Maria Elena Durazo noted his ability to not only successfully negotiate among power brokers but also enjoy simple activities.

“My father would like to buy his suits, and also liked going to Dodger games and to the swap meet where he would buy his jerky,” his son said.

“Los Angeles is what it is today and leads the nation [with its unions] because of Miguel Contreras,” other speakers noted.

Both Contreras and Durazo, who is vice president of UNITE-Hotel and Restaurant Employees, have been key figures in the Los Angeles labor movement.

Durazo was also honored along with David Huerta, president of SEIU-United Service Workers West; Sergio Rascon, business manager, Laborers’ local 300, vice president of Laborers’ International; and Rigo Valdez, director of Organizing United Food and Commercial Workers.

For more information on the Cesar Chavez March for Justice contact: 818 837-2272

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